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Bending in Avatar (and other theories)

ClassicRobert
Posts: 2,487
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9/30/2013 11:22:29 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
So I've been thinking a lot about bending (as shown in Avatar) and it's specifics. So let's delve deep into what is essentially a kid's show.

All of the benders seem to be manipulating actual elements or molecules. Air benders work on oxygen, water benders work on water, earth benders work on what seems like silicon (I'm assuming this based on the fact that it is extremely prevalent in the earth's crust), and fire benders work on... what? Combustion? Fire benders work on combustion, not a specified element, which leads me to believe that they are actually just a sub-sect of air bending. It is referenced in the episode with the sun warriors that fire bending is not now what it was originally, but that a violent sect detached itself. This leads me to believe that fire benders are actually just air benders who learned how to combust the oxygen.

This also leads to the question: to what extent do benders have control over their respective elements? For this question, I find it necessary to look at water benders specifically. They seem to be capable of manipulating the state of matter of water freely... they can change it from liquid, to ice, to vapor as they see fit. However, I don't believe that they actually change the heat of the water. The only benders that seem to be able to control heat are the fire benders. This indicates to me that water benders are not actually changing the heat of the water when they change it's state of matter, but are actually going in on the molecules and forcibly turning them into ice crystals or tearing them apart.

This is why it seems ridiculous to me that fire benders can control lightning. It makes more sense in my mind that it would work for air benders, who could create the static electricity with oxygen molecules banging up against each other.

Further observations/theories/refutations?
Debate me: Economic decision theory should be adjusted to include higher-order preferences for non-normative purposes http://www.debate.org...

Do you really believe that? Or not? If you believe it, you should man up and defend it in a debate. -RoyLatham

My Pet Fish is such a Douche- NiamC

It's an app to meet friends and stuff, sort of like an adult club penguin- Thett3, describing Tinder
Disquisition
Posts: 391
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9/30/2013 11:51:22 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 9/30/2013 11:22:29 AM, ClassicRobert wrote:
So I've been thinking a lot about bending (as shown in Avatar) and it's specifics. So let's delve deep into what is essentially a kid's show.

All of the benders seem to be manipulating actual elements or molecules. Air benders work on oxygen, water benders work on water, earth benders work on what seems like silicon (I'm assuming this based on the fact that it is extremely prevalent in the earth's crust), and fire benders work on... what? Combustion? Fire benders work on combustion, not a specified element, which leads me to believe that they are actually just a sub-sect of air bending. It is referenced in the episode with the sun warriors that fire bending is not now what it was originally, but that a violent sect detached itself. This leads me to believe that fire benders are actually just air benders who learned how to combust the oxygen.

This also leads to the question: to what extent do benders have control over their respective elements? For this question, I find it necessary to look at water benders specifically. They seem to be capable of manipulating the state of matter of water freely... they can change it from liquid, to ice, to vapor as they see fit. However, I don't believe that they actually change the heat of the water. The only benders that seem to be able to control heat are the fire benders. This indicates to me that water benders are not actually changing the heat of the water when they change it's state of matter, but are actually going in on the molecules and forcibly turning them into ice crystals or tearing them apart.

This is why it seems ridiculous to me that fire benders can control lightning. It makes more sense in my mind that it would work for air benders, who could create the static electricity with oxygen molecules banging up against each other.

Further observations/theories/refutations?

On that part about water bending, wasn't there an episode where they met this lady that could blood bend, which is essentially controlling water in living organisms. Wouldn't that make water benders the most powerful if they choose to blood bend.

Assuming they actually remove the water from someone's body.
ClassicRobert
Posts: 2,487
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9/30/2013 12:06:38 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 9/30/2013 11:51:22 AM, Disquisition wrote:
At 9/30/2013 11:22:29 AM, ClassicRobert wrote:
So I've been thinking a lot about bending (as shown in Avatar) and it's specifics. So let's delve deep into what is essentially a kid's show.

All of the benders seem to be manipulating actual elements or molecules. Air benders work on oxygen, water benders work on water, earth benders work on what seems like silicon (I'm assuming this based on the fact that it is extremely prevalent in the earth's crust), and fire benders work on... what? Combustion? Fire benders work on combustion, not a specified element, which leads me to believe that they are actually just a sub-sect of air bending. It is referenced in the episode with the sun warriors that fire bending is not now what it was originally, but that a violent sect detached itself. This leads me to believe that fire benders are actually just air benders who learned how to combust the oxygen.

This also leads to the question: to what extent do benders have control over their respective elements? For this question, I find it necessary to look at water benders specifically. They seem to be capable of manipulating the state of matter of water freely... they can change it from liquid, to ice, to vapor as they see fit. However, I don't believe that they actually change the heat of the water. The only benders that seem to be able to control heat are the fire benders. This indicates to me that water benders are not actually changing the heat of the water when they change it's state of matter, but are actually going in on the molecules and forcibly turning them into ice crystals or tearing them apart.

This is why it seems ridiculous to me that fire benders can control lightning. It makes more sense in my mind that it would work for air benders, who could create the static electricity with oxygen molecules banging up against each other.

Further observations/theories/refutations?

On that part about water bending, wasn't there an episode where they met this lady that could blood bend, which is essentially controlling water in living organisms. Wouldn't that make water benders the most powerful if they choose to blood bend.

Assuming they actually remove the water from someone's body.

Same sort of thing goes with air benders. They could theoretically excite the air molecules around the person to the point where it literally incinerates a person.
Debate me: Economic decision theory should be adjusted to include higher-order preferences for non-normative purposes http://www.debate.org...

Do you really believe that? Or not? If you believe it, you should man up and defend it in a debate. -RoyLatham

My Pet Fish is such a Douche- NiamC

It's an app to meet friends and stuff, sort of like an adult club penguin- Thett3, describing Tinder
ClassicRobert
Posts: 2,487
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9/30/2013 10:59:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Guys, tell me honestly... can I even science?
Debate me: Economic decision theory should be adjusted to include higher-order preferences for non-normative purposes http://www.debate.org...

Do you really believe that? Or not? If you believe it, you should man up and defend it in a debate. -RoyLatham

My Pet Fish is such a Douche- NiamC

It's an app to meet friends and stuff, sort of like an adult club penguin- Thett3, describing Tinder
Chrysippus
Posts: 2,173
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10/1/2013 12:27:17 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 9/30/2013 10:59:53 PM, ClassicRobert wrote:
Guys, tell me honestly... can I even science?

I think you may be approaching this the wrong way. Avatar is set in an essentially animistic universe; natural features like the moon and the ocean are shown to have spirits that have physical effects on the world. Science in the world of the Avatar has to take these effects into account; chi is an obvious, demonstrable, repeatable, measurable force capable of physical effects, and is the only reasonable explanation for bending.

Think about it. Even if Air-benders were "only" affecting the oxygen atoms, what possible physical/magnetic/electric/gravitational force could they exert that would distinguish between oxygen and helium? Why only the atoms in the air, and not those bound up in water or soil? Why would Earthbenders be unable to move lighter objects, like trees or wooden planks, when they manipulate multi-ton boulders with ease? For that matter, Earthbenders are constantly being buried/smashed/crushed under tons of rock in the show - WITHOUT any visible effects. What purely physical force could possibly protect them from the weight and inertia of these boulders? The human skeleton is simply not designed to protect against these kinds of forces; the Earthbending arenas would be deathmatches.

And another thing. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. If the forces involved were physical, shooting a stream of water (in an impossibly straight line unaffected by ballistic forces or gravity) at your opponent would kick you back in the opposite direction with equal force. Many of the stunts Katara pulls should throw her back fifteen feet and dislocate her shoulder. Opening the gates of Ba Sing Se would be a death sentence for the benders involved; that gate must have weighed hundreds of tons, and the forces involved should have ripped them apart, to say nothing of crumbling the stone.

Trying to shoe-horn a non-spiritual explanation for these effects is frankly bad science. In our world, chi is demonstrably incapable of physical effects, if it exists at all; it would be bad science to attribute any effect to spirits, since there is no obvious proof of their existence. In the Avatarverse, the spiritual world is a proven fact; there is no room for materialist skepticism in a world where you can have your face stolen by Coe, and killing a fish can kill the moon and the tides. Chi is an excellent explanation for the effects known as "bending," and why they defy normal physics; and any doubters can be slow-roasted by a Firebender from the inside out until they recant.
Cavete mea inexorabilis legiones mimus!